December 9, 2023
It’s common to hear that someone has been “charged” with domestic violence, and even those in the legal profession (this lawyer included) tend to use this shorthand to refer to a situation where someone has been accused of a crime where domestic violence is allegedly involved. However, if you are being accused of domestic violence, it is important to understand that there is no actual domestic violence charge in Denver or anywhere else in Colorado. When we say that people are facing a “domestic violence charge,” what we really mean is that they are dealing with charges where domestic violence has been claimed. In other words, you may be charged assault in a domestic violence case, but you can’t be “charged” with domestic violence.
Why is it so important to understand this? Because oftentimes people are told that they are facing domestic violence charges, but when the actual charges are given out, they are confused to hear things like harassment or false imprisonment. With that in mind, it seemed like it might be valuable to discuss some of the most common things that people are charged with in domestic violence cases. Below you’ll find six of these charges as well as what they entail.
False imprisonment. Most people think about false imprisonment as literally holding another person against their will by tying them down or otherwise physically restraining them. But while there are certainly instances of this kind of thing in domestic violence cases, it is also common to be charged with this crime simply for trying to keep someone from leaving by lying to them, coercing them to stay, or threatening them with violence.
Harassment. When we have trouble in an intimate relationship, it can make us do a number of foolish things. Like repeatedly calling our partner or ex and then hanging up on them. Or following them because we’re worried they’re cheating. Or repeatedly taunting or insulting them. Believe it or not, all of these things can actually fall under the criminal charge of harassment in our state.
Menacing. When you menace someone, you make them terrified that you’ll hurt them by brandishing a deadly weapon or pretending that you have a deadly weapon. You can do this visually or simply by telling them that you are armed with a deadly weapon – the point is that you’re presenting yourself as a threat and convincing them that a weapon is involved.
Third degree assault. In Colorado, assault in the third degree as is applies to domestic violence cases involves knowingly or recklessly causing someone physical harm with a deadly weapon. So, for example, if you got in a fight with your spouse and threw a coffee mug that hit them and caused a concussion, you can be charged even if you intended to hit the wall behind them.
Violation of restraining order. If someone gets a restaining order against you, there will be certain specific rules that you are required to follow. Ignoring or violating these rules in any way can lead to this charge, with brings with it a number of serious penalties.
Wiretapping. Though this crime probably seems like something that should be reserved for international spies or high-level criminals, in reality it is quite easy for someone to engage in “wiretapping” their significant other. This is because according to the law, wiretapping simply means listening to someone’s communication (or reading, copying, recording, or taking it) without their permission. Technically, if you’ve read your spouse’s texts without asking, you’ve committed a wiretapping offense.
Obviously, these are not the only charges that can be filed in a domestic violence case, but they do provide a nice cross-section of the types of things that you may find yourself facing, as well as how relatively easy it is to violate the law. If you are surprised to suddenly find yourself embroiled in a domestic violence case, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal lawyer with a track record of success.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.